Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Joel H. Fish

POSTED: Friday, January 31, 2014, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Football | In The News | Joel H. Fish
Workers shovel snow off the seats at MetLife Stadium as crews removed snow ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII following a snow storm, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be played between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2, will be the first NFL title game held outdoors in a city where it snows. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

At first glance, Denver vs. Seattle looks like a matchup that offers little in the way of a Philly fan’s rooting interest. But the presences of Seattle’s Richard Sherman and Denver’s Peyton Manning will see to it that most fans will take a side in time for Sunday’s kickoff.

Sherman, Seattle’s Pro Bowl cornerback, became a household name in the wake of his live interview on FOX after the Seahawks’ NFC championship victory over San Francisco.

POSTED: Friday, December 20, 2013, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Football | In The News | Joel H. Fish
Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Much has been written about the Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin situation that existed on the Miami Dolphins this season. At present, Incognito has been suspended from the Dolphins for behavior that has been described as bullying. Martin has taken an extended absence from the team for emotional reasons. 

It is unclear what exactly happened between these two professional football players in the Dolphins locker room and off the field during the past 2 years. The incidents have shed light, though, on locker room behavior that exists on many professional football teams. In fact, the “team culture” that seems to be common in professional football has also been found to be similar in other professional sports. 

The issue of locker room behavior is also one that is also relevant to youth sports, high school sports, and college sports. Team culture is often defined as what is expected and typical behavior among a group of athletes that are part of the same team. It is clear that team culture can often reinforce positive teambuilding behavior. It is evident, though, that just wearing the same team uniform does not guarantee that each player on the team will be treated with dignity and respect. 

POSTED: Friday, September 13, 2013, 9:39 AM
Filed Under: Children, Teens | Joel H. Fish

Do you have a son or daughter who is trying out for a school sports team, or who is playing on a team for the first time? If so, this is certainly an exciting time. Along with the excitement, though, tryouts and being a first-time team member pose some unique mental challenges.

Adrenaline is a natural part of a tryout situation or being part of a team for the first time. Anxiety is also a natural emotion in new situations. Athletes tend to feel most anxious the night before or several hours before a competition. The anticipation of a competition usually produces the most anxiety and often subsides once the game starts. 

As a parent, I think it is important to normalize for our children that feelings of anxiety and stress are common in new competitive situations. Anxiety is a natural part of competition. The challenge for athletes is to learn to relax when they start to feel overly anxious or stressed during a competition. In a tryout or first-time competitive situation, the best way to relax is to slow down, take a timeout, and take a deep breath. When athletes slow down, their heartbeat and blood pressure slows down, and they are better able to keep their emotions from getting too high or too low. 

POSTED: Friday, July 19, 2013, 5:00 AM
Filed Under: Children, Teens | Joel H. Fish

One of the recent trends in youth sports is that children are specializing in one sport, as opposed to participating in a variety of sports, at a younger age. For example, in the ‘70’s, ‘80’s, and ‘90’s it was common for a boy or girl to play soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball/softball in the spring. Now starting as early as 8 years old, there are more boys and girls playing the same sport all year round.

Is specializing a good trend in youth sports or not? In researching this question for my book, 101 Ways To Be A Terrific Sports Parent, I found that the answer is that a parent can’t paint every child with the same brush. For some children, playing one sport 24/7 is not enough. The child loves and thrives on playing the sport as much as possible. For other children, though, specializing in a sport at a young age increases the chances of sport burnout. As one 12-year old who plays soccer all year round recently said to me, “Soccer is starting to feel like a job for me.” 

From a sport psychology point of view, the key point is not whether the child is physically capable of playing one sport all year round, but is the child emotionally ready to do so? Is the child mature enough to handle the extra stress and pressure all year round. If on a travel or elite team, is the child psychologically prepared for the expectations that come from being on an elite team? Is the child socially ready to be part of a more intense sports team? In my opinion, unless the child is both physically and emotionally ready to specialize in one sport, the disadvantages can outweigh the advantages.

POSTED: Monday, June 3, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Children, Teens | Joel H. Fish
Youth sports remain a great place for children to learn life skills such as goal setting, dealing with frustration, discipline, and teamwork. But just because we throw a uniform on a child does not guarantee that he or she will have a positive youth sports experience. (Photo: istockphoto)

For many parents, the Spring sports seasons for their children are either in full swing or winding down.   For youth sport participants, ages 6 to 18, this can be the time of year for great joy or disappointment. 

As sports parents, how can we best help our children to navigate the highs and lows of sports? It was with this in mind that I wrote 101 Ways To Be A Terrific Sports Parent.

Sports competition in 2013 is different than it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Today’s youth sports landscape is a ‘good news/bad news’ scenario. On the one hand, there are approximately 40 million children involved in organized youth sports in America, more than ever before. On the other hand, approximately 30% of kids age 13 to 17 are dropping out of youth sports, primarily because they are not having fun. 

POSTED: Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 9:29 AM
((Photo Credit: Pete Lodato))

Whether the race is a sprint, middle distance or a marathon, running is a very mental sport. The sport is mentally challenging because of the confidence, composure, concentration, and often times pushing through physical pain that it requires. 

The Broad Street Run is challenging in another way because it is a 10-mile race. Some runners train for 5k and 10k races. Others train for half marathons or full marathons. But a 10-mile distance is different, if not unique and thus preparation requires not only a different physical training regimen, but also the development of a different mental game plan in terms of pacing oneself, tactics, etc.

There is also a unique mental challenge for the anticipated 20,000 runners who have never run as long as 10 miles before. When running a longer distance than ever before, there are certain “mental blocks” that one has to overcome. The most common mental block would be fear of failure. That is to say, setting a new goal for oneself and experiencing some of the disappointment and perhaps embarrassment if one is not able to finish the race and achieve the goal. 

POSTED: Thursday, March 28, 2013, 5:50 AM
La Salle would appreciate it if you didn't characterize them as bracket busters. (Orlin Wagner/AP)

The phenomenon of March Madness continues to grow. For this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, more people submitted brackets than ever before. Viewership of the first weekend’s games was at an all-time high, with people utilizing television, computers, and their phones to catch glimpses of the games whenever they could. 

In Philadelphia, of course, there is extra interest in the journey of La Salle as they get ready to play Wichita State this upcoming Thursday. For a city that takes such pride in The Big 5, to have one of our own advance to the Sweet 16 feels like having one of the family continue to play. The fact that La Salle has also been an underdog throughout and has Philadelphia players on its roster increases our rooting interest in this upcoming game.

Additionally, last weekend Philadelphia played host to the greatest underdog story in years—little-known Florida Gulf Coast University. In their first-ever tourney appearance, the Eagles upended mighty Georgetown and toppled San Diego State to advance to this weekend’s regional finals in Dallas. They’ll take on their in-state rivals, the nationally-ranked Florida Gators—adding another layer of intrigue to the team who has already provided one of the best March Madness storylines in years.

POSTED: Monday, February 25, 2013, 10:01 AM
Filed Under: In The News | Joel H. Fish

The Oscar Pistorius story is the latest example of an elite athlete’s alleged behavior dominating both the news and the sports sections of the media. To fans, it’s yet another example of being forced to confront the fact that sports heroes are real people.

In my work as a sport psychologist with elite athletes over the years, I have come to understand that there are unique pressures that come along with being in the spotlight on a daily basis. This is by no means to excuse an athlete’s behavior, but it is an attempt to understand it.

In sport psychology, we talk about behavior being a combination of personality and the environment.  The environment in which our elite athletes are raised is often radically different from the average environment where most people are raised. If someone is treated as special from a very young age, he/she may not have to live by the same rules of cause and effect that other people must live by. If there are not consequences to one’s behavior, this can impact on a person’s ability to learn to make good decisions. 

About this blog

Whether you are a weekend warrior, an aging baby boomer, a student athlete or just someone who wants to stay active, this blog is for you. Read about our growing list of expert contributors here.

Robert Senior Sports Doc blog Editor
Alfred Atanda, Jr., M.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Robert Cabry, M.D. Drexel Sports Medicine, Team physician - U.S. Figure Skating, Assoc. Team Physician - Drexel
Brian Cammarota, MEd, ATC, CSCS, CES Symetrix Sports Performance, athletic trainer at OAA Orthopaedics
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician for the Phillies & St. Joe's
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician - Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon - Flyers
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director - The Center For Sport Psychology, Sports Psychology Consultant - 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Rothman Institute, Team Physician - USA Wrestling, Consultant - Philadelphia Phillies
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer at The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Cassie Haynes, JD, MPH Co-Founder, Trap Door Athletics, CrossFit LI Certified
Eugene Hong, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP Team Physician - Drexel, Philadelphia University, Saint Joe’s, & U.S. National Women’s Lacrosse
Jim McCrossin, ATC Flyers and Phantoms
Kevin Miller Fitness Coach, Philadelphia Union
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales, Pa.
David Rubenstein, M.D. Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center, Team Orthopedist - Philadelphia 76ers
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute, Athletic Trainer - US Soccer Federation
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